Thursday, 1 November 2018

Torso Lust

You have some lovely left-over torsos.... and some cavalry trooper legs extra from constructing plastic horsemen ....and you are thinking they would make a wonderful second unit, but you have no further horses…..

Perry Miniatures cleverly offer separate horse sprues and so I ordered some of the British Light Dragoons horse sprues that I might create the 5th (Belgian) Light Dragoons for the Waterloo campaign.  The Perry horses sport plain blankets without the usual shabraque (the long pointed saddle cloth of British full dress) so can be used for other units dressed without that piece of kit.

However, once they arrived, I noted/remembered that the models do sport the historical British trait of ‘docking’ or trimming the tails of their horses.  But the Belgians did not.  So out came the “green stuff” epoxy putty to fill out the tails.  I also needed to cover the ‘indent’ in the front of the right-side region of the saddle where the British would store the carbine but that I did not use, as the Belgians would instead attach the carbine to their shoulder strap in French fashion.
Rather fuzzy photo but the elongated tails and saddle "repair" work can be noted

These are on the a-list of units to paint…..

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Tercey Campaign Re-ignites

After we left the last battle in this fictional campaign in a distant shire during the English Civil War, the main contestants swept through the region, taking with them many of the fighting forces for both sides.  After many months of peace,  the shire saw the return of the Earl of Rockforth and the return of strife in the Shire.

Lord Brooke was by now burdened by ill heath but still formed the main opposition Rockforth’s return.  He funded the first military response by authorizing the ambush of the Earl which was conducted near Sheppard’s Farm.  While few good units were yet available, Longe’s musketeers were a solid unit.  Ballard’s Shotte were thought to be a poor unit, but as we shall see, they performed admirably during this engagement.  These Tawney troops along with a small cannon and Lord Brooke’s own commanded shot, sought to delay or even defeat Rockforth’s army.

To that end, Longe’s muskets were placed in the woods with Ballard’s Shotte on the hill with the small cannon on a mound opposite.  The commanded shot held the rear of what was essentially a box into which the Earl’s troops would enter.
The Earl's army along the road, the small cannon to the left, Ballard's Shotte on the hill right and Longe's seen in the large woods

The trap was set but would require good timing.  The signal was to be the cannon but in good “Rampant-y” style it did not fire!  Ballard’s men who could see the gun also did not fire (they also failed activation) but Longe’s musketeers hiding along the woods edge, who had already allowed the Earl’s sedan chair to pass, grew impatient and Longe allowed them to fire at Hampden’s passing regiment.

Longe's ambush

The Earl’s army, shocked but not disordered, readied themselves.  Longe was to “shoote and scoote” but decided on another volley but the hurried order had the result of a half-hearted effect but it was enough for the Hampden pike to withdraw.

The small cannon finally fired and the shot barely missed the sedan chair. [ I made it that 4 hits were necessary to kill a horse or damage the chair in some way, 6 hits would kill the Earl ]

Hastings, leading his cuirassiers, finding a target for their wraith, charged Ballard’s Shotte but Ballard’s men surprisingly only moved back from each charge in good order like veterans  [ their ‘courage’ rolls were 11 or 12 on the dice throughout the battle! ]  but finally needed to retire to refuge of the chavel de frise of sharpened stakes which was their handiwork the day before, allowing them to fight off the pursing cuirassiers who finally evaporated in exhaustion.
Ballard's Shotte prepare to meet Hastings charge
Chased but not beaten, Ballard's Shotte defend in the Cheval de Frise (plastics tree forms by Woodland Scenics)

The Earl’s transport, now under great control by his retainers (rolled a 12 for activation move) moved the the protection of Hampden’s Pike and ordered them and the nearby pike of Robart’s to “take the Godd**n cannon!”

Startled by the reappearance of Longe’s Musketeers who had previously moved through the woods and were now supporting the cannon, Robarte’s pike stopped as did Hampden’s musketeers behind them for a few moments allowing the cannon to either again fire ( and probably be overrun ) or to withdraw.  I rolled for their decision and they took the “save our butts” option.

We have had heard little from Lord Brooke’s commanded shot unit as it would continue to fail all of its activation rolls. Even when the Earl’s chair was passing by inches away, no orders were given.  Perhaps the officer was an Earl sympathizer?
Another failed activation by Lord Brooke's purple clad commanded shot
However Ballard’s men were not so complacent about the battle ending quite yet.  And while Hampden’s pikemen congratulated themselves on the capture of the small cannon and Longe’s musketeers expended the last of their bullets with the bulk of the Earl’s army,  the grey clad musketeers charged at the sedan chair but narrowly missed capturing the Earl.  But with that the battle ended.
The Earl’s arrival to the Shire was not the easy affair he expected.

The officer of the Commanded Shot which did not perform well was cashiered from Lord Brooke’s employ for failing each and every activation roll.
He was found dead two days later of a self-inflicted gunshot to the back of the head.
Hopefully the commanded shot will have better dice in the next battle.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Sprue ‘bricks’

"Very cheap, mindfully fungal, rather clever, playfully recycling or just a freaking waste of time"?

 I was wondering which of these characteristics do I evoke in myself,  clipping away at the empty plastic figures sprue I was holding, to create small scale bricks for the time, in the indeterminate future, when I might want to make a destroyed building and mix them in with the accompanying rubble......

Monday, 22 October 2018

War of 1812 - a fictional affair

Battle for Sheppard’s Bridge - fictional War of 1812

American General Jim needed to capture the important bridge near the Sheppard Farm to continue his advance into Upper Canada during the War of 1812 in this fictional affair.  The British commander Kevin was to hold this advance with his British and mostly Canadian contingent.  Both sides were populated with units of dubious quality militia.

Kevin, hearing that the rules were based upon the excellent “Loose Files, American Scramble” rules by Andy Callan, and knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the various qualities of the troops,  went for a ‘defence in depth’ strategy remencent of Greene’s deployments in the American Revolutionary War and so created lines of units with his best in reserve.

Canadian militia line the fence, the Glengarry Fencibles behind and the greatcoated 49th Foot in the rear.  The successive lines of the British defence.

Jim meanwhile, in the attack, concentrated the Kentucky frontier militia on his left, while he lead his regulars, many of which were the usual poorly trained stuff of the American early war efforts, on the right of the large field which dominated the centre of the battle area.

The American advance of their Right. The militia lead.  My newly painted 'sky' backdrop employed.

The Kentucky militia perhaps evoking their constitutional rights to only defend the territory of the United States and not invade Canada, or were having internal debates or in-fighting, nevertheless refused to advance and indeed removed themselves from the action altogether before even engaging the enemy. (hard to get the militia to do much and Jim’s abundance of 1 rolls certainly did assist in their rapid dispersal!)

The milling Kentucky militia.  Their disorder displayed by the 'cannonballs'

With that flank stalled, Jim continued his advance by units on his right until the final effort to take the hill before the bridge.  The US 16th Infantry Regiment lead the attack against the defending British 13th Foot.  While engaged in an equal battle for the hill, they were joined by additional forces from both sides.  The British barely came out the victors.   With that, the American effort was thwarted.

The critical fight on the hill with the 13th Foot still wearing their white tropical shakos.  (In reality, these were quickly exchanged for the usual black shakos, but they are just too cool not to not represent!)
both sides add to the combat

Monday, 8 October 2018

GaPa again!

Another Saxon/Russian GNW defeat!

Excited by each of us increasing our GNW forces, KevinA’s Swedes, WillB’s Russians, and my Electorate Saxons, another battle at the club was scheduled.

In many ways it had a similar theme as our previous battle, having the Swedish elite cavalry exploit the woods on the left of the Russian/Saxon line to outflank and roll up the allies line.

A bird's view from the Swedish left.  The Swedes are deployed to the right with the elite horse in three unit column in the far distance.  The Russian/Saxon alliance is holding the fortifications to the left with the Saxon horse moving around the woods to counter the Swedish advance on their flank. (photo by Kevin)  
The Russians on the right flank advanced without opposition hoping to attract attention from the Swedish in the centre but failed to do so, while the Russians of the centre were unwilling to abandon the defensive positions to attack to the left.   The battle concluded as the Saxons holding the left collapsed, but as the new Swedish Guards failed to advance further under artillery fire in their first time under fire in the field of battle after being proudly painted by Kevin, he was not able to attack the vacant middle of the Allies line allowing the Russian forces to escape intact.

My Saxons in position....
....however they are forced to reposition to the left.  Not done in my usual technique, these are painted in a style to compliment the others collections.
Saxon grenadiers.  These are from the old Wargames Factory sprues. These have a third of the figures having half torsos and lots of arm, weapon and head bits so allowing such fun options. The Warlord version does not give these options and is much the poorer for it (as well as your wallet!)
The 'left' woods, the scene of most of the action
KevinA's Swedes including his CharlesXII command stand which includes a poor Russian soldier getting his buttocks attacked by the dogs! 
And WillB's stoic Russians in the fore, Kevin's Russians holding the entrenchments.  Our collections are primarily Warlord/Wargames factory plastics along with some Old Glory and Warfare miniatures. 

Cheval de frise

A couple of wargaming buddies started their new c.1706 Great Northern War project and I finally could not resist joining in.  One of the few conflicts I have little knowledge, brief research had me going to collect forces of the Electorate of Saxony which allied itself with WillB’s Russians against KevinA’s Swedes.

Apparently not too confident about defending against the aggressive Swedes, it was common for these early 18th C Saxons to employ these spiky defences along their whole front.
my finished examples on the tabletop

While I have a few of these in metal, I felt I would need more.  Inspiration had me look at the used sprues of the cavalry and plastic toothpicks bought cheaply at the dollar store for a very inexpensive solution as the following photos illustrate.
Metal version (manufacturer unknown)
Pieces of the sprue cut off. The two will be then glued together to form a square post.
Plastic toothpicks. The ends are cut off to length.  I used only the red ones!
All glued together.  The model glue melted the plastic to allow the toothpick ends to remain upright with only a couple moments of being held in place to my surprise
Primered in black, now looking the part
Finished version.  The figure is a Warlord (nee Wargames Factory) plastic WSS era horseman. 

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Escort Duty

1815 era Dutch-Belgians playing on the French side!  (my plastic conversions)

Surprised no one wondered why cuirassiers, hussars and all manner of horsemen were tasked to escort wagons but such are questions best unspoken when a scenario must be designed with only a vague idea of the number of players coming.  However the “escort the wagons” is always a good option for any era.  As the game was another “pley-test” of  “Hussar Rampant” it was all horse using every painted unit available, both my French and Dutch-Belgians and WiilB’s borrowed Russians and French Dragoons, giving the 8 players three units each.  This was to be the largest of the games so far at 24 units on the table.
Chasseurs on escort duty

Also testing the rules was the utter mess of deployment,  with the French escorting the wagons and  units helping from the town and against Russian forces coming in from all angles from the random diced approaches which inevitably creates a bit of chaotic action.  However if this confusion still has the rules working despite unique or challenging situations, then it might survive any test.
The usual combats in all directions.  In this case, all cuirassier action!

So it was that the game had the wagons almost within range of the town and causing some of the Russian players bemoan the task unaware however that at 8+ activation, the wagons would be hard to move along.  DaveMc wanted the cossacks  in order to burn and loot (and not just capture) and surprisingly used them ‘cossackian’ style avoiding most contacts but as their real-life counterparts, were a quite the nuisance.  The cuirassiers both Russian, under the able command of ChrisO, and French ones, were hard to kill, and the lancers with their ”pointy-stick” bonus had a big punch.  The lights and hussars, with greater movement rates, could dance around ( or should!).
units are standardized 6 figure units
Russian overhead perspective with ChrisO's view of the battle

The wagons, safe for a while, but with French losses and little movement, they inevitability were captured or in one case, burnt by cossacks.      
This, and the following pic, shows an interesting combat three of my Dutch-Belgian units against one Russian cuirassier formation. As usual, my dice again profoundly fail me and the armoured Russians prevail...... !!   

Saturday, 15 September 2018

D-B Heavies

Dutch-Belgian Napoleonic heavy horse...ironically in lightweight plastic....

While yes, Perry Miniatures do have the Dutch-Belgian Carabiniers in metal, I rather fancied doing them in plastic so upon spotting a Perry French Dragoon box on sale at the local store, I could not resist converting these into a couple of companies for the 1815 Hundred Days campaign.

While many sources suggest the helmet was only worn by the 2nd (Belgian) contingent, I went for full-on regulations mode and gave my 3rd (Dutch) Carabiniers spare French plastic versions modified with addition of the badge plate on the front and plume. The bicorne is the suggested head gear but these helmets could have been worn and are far more handsome!

The existing French valise version has the greatcoat folded on the top which was removed and the greatcoat was added using ‘green stuff’ around the shoulder on most, which was a common D-B trait apparently.  The Perrys, for production sake, attached the cartridge box to the valise, but a minor point to glue to the appropriate location on the torso.

The French Dragoon saddlecloth, sheepskin fur and basic uniform was close to identical to the Dutch-Belgian version so no changes required other than the colours of course. (perhaps the valise should be rounded instead of square but I consider that a minor issue).  Many of the sources do not indicate the fringed epaulettes on the Dutch as the Perrys put on theirs, so the existing shoulder straps are fine.

As the intended use is with a group of fellows doing primarily French and British for Waterloo, I am having fun creating the rarely thought of Dutch-Belgians to add a bit of different color to the affair.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

The victory 'one'?

It is said the victors write the history which, after days of delay, begs the question: "Why am I writing this?"  
Of course that statement alone should suggest I did not.  Was it due to a poor battle plan? Perhaps.  Tactics? Maybe.  Poor dice throws? Most certainly. 

JimF came over to give the rules another run.  This affair was a French civil war of sorts using only French units as they are all plastics, mainly Perrys.

Again a play-test of our all-cavalry Napoleonic rules inspired by the popular rules Lion Rampant,  the player is required to ‘activate’ units using 2d6 to achieve a certain amount.  Because of humous comments made during our first ever game, I thought to add that if a player rolls ‘snake-eyes’ (double ones) the unit must really be not into the action and disordered because of it and thus be penalized accordingly.  Well that really came back to haunt me as, not once, not twice but FIVE times I would roll two 1s during the game, and once in succession!  I will not bore with the report, only to say, I lost…..

Like the bad golfer who breaks the club over their knee in frustration, or the tennis player after sending the ball wide smashing the racket to bits as if it were the cause,  I too shall blame the dice.  But in this case, I am not correct?  Five snake-eyes in one game?  Is that not average gone sideways?! 
However I did not throw the dice or complain (too much).   Ce la guerre! 

Fun game nonetheless.

pics from the game:

Perry French CaC light horse (elite company)
Ooh, cuirassier on cuirassier action!
The initial charges
My kit-bashed Dutch 4th Light Dragoons of the Waterloo Campaign.  Made from Perry plastic parts and Fireforge plastic horses.  

Saturday, 1 September 2018

LBH, Nap. style!

The Battle of Petite Grosse Ramure (in French and as we know it) or as the “Russians” call it: the fight at Малый Большой рог or Масляная трава (maslyanaya trava)

This was another of our play-tests for development of the rules we are calling “Hussar Rampant” inspired by “Lion Rampant” by Dan Mersey (Osprey Publishing).  I say inspired as it has some deviation from the original but a close cousin nevertheless.  Certainly the stats charts are very recognizable to the original.  It is but a copy of the medieval knights bashing about, but in the Napoleonic era so having less armor and pretty uniforms!

I needed inspiration for a scenario for our Napoleonic all-cavalry affair and found one in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.  Yes, the General Custer and Indians thing!  But you say:  it was mainly fought on foot.  Agreed, but I said I needed inspiration, not actual.  As it turned out, the game outcome mirrored that of the historical event, so all is good.

All the regular attendees could come so I decided to already provide a set command for each.  I took the task of that of Maj. Reno using my plastics, PeterM was given Custer with Will’s plastic French.  The Natives, using Will’s metal Russian figures, as they positioned themselves, were KevinA (Sitting Bull), JimF (Gall), and WillB (Crazy Horse).

The scenario had each of the Natives having two wagons which, un-announced to them, represented the non-combatants breaking up the encampment and leaving the area.  Their victory condition was to have the wagons leave the table at the far end.
Part of the Natives Russians encampment.  Note the differing ways of forming of the troops, the formal lines vs a mob.  The rules do not make any distinction.

The American cavalry [ read: French ] were to inflict a decisive victory upon the Natives [ read:  Russians ].

Each player was given 14-16 points worth of troops which gave each three units, along with a commander for group moves if wanted. It turned out to be a very good amount for each player to play and which I will use as a guideline for future scenarios.
As Custer was indeed outnumbered (substantially!), the Russians had 40% more units and over 50% plus in points over the French this game.

The game started with the Russians frantically trying to activate to move their wagons, all the while move their troops in position.  I failed to instruct Peter to use the stone bridge - which represented the gully which Custer would first use thinking he was at the rear but really only the middle of the large Native encampment.  Instead Peter crossed the creek at a point nearer the front of the Russian camp. Oh well.
"Custer's command" move across the creek
The French initial activations were spotty.  It took Peter some time to ready for the attack as did I …. my double ones at the very start of the game was certainly a bad omen.  However, there were another two rolls of double ones by others that turn -— I guess we just need to get it out of our systems.
Double ones....again..... My chasseurs are immobile this turn. 

At this point of the game, Kevin guessed the game as the historical Battle of the Little Big Horn.  Luckily the players did not have the intimate knowledge of the battle, so still thought the sheep and cow markers at the far end of the table I pointed out in the pre-game info session meant something bad might happen!   (regular players of my games know I do surprise moves on them..some call it ‘fog of war’ , others “ the pucker factor’, others “sh*t will happen”)    Will and Jim actually had a conversation to leave a few units to escort the wagons in case the cows “should mean something” but then both failed to do anything about it!  [ Note: I was using the full table and so merely used the cows, sheep and some barrels as ‘decoration’ to occupy some open space and make the table a bit more interesting to look at. I was not going to dissuade them from making assumptions now was I? ]  

During the game the French, outnumbered as they were, had the better in many of the combats and while Peter’s command became surrounded and slowly whittled away, my “Reno” command was quite strong until the shocking destruction of my company of the 3rd Chasseurs which was  an integral part of our attack but whose elimination had given pause to the French chances of success. Reno would be eventually forced to retreat to a better defensive position.
Kevin's grasping hand indicates "Custer's Hill" the centre of the action (in the actual battle this was on the other side of the creek..but close enough...)
Custer/Peter is surrounded. The unit on the right side of the creek is Russian having crossed via the stone bridge and preventing any French retreat.
My/Reno's chasseurs retreating  moving to a better position after the destruction of the 3rd Chasseurs elite company

As Peter’s ‘Custer’ was massacred (down to 1 lone but ready Dragoon figure!),  I brought on “Benteen command” in the form of two more units to give to Peter, which then could assist my Reno command to fend off the Russians.  However, the Russian victory condition was already achieved - getting the wagons i.e. their women and children - off the table, so the Russian players had no heart to continue the conflict and would only send some units in pursuit.
In other words, the game mirrored the actual affair quite nicely!

I love it when that happens!

The horse heads are our 'blown' or battered markers.  Spare plastic pieces.  Shades of the 'Godfather'?